Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara
I am very delighted for the opportunity presented by this Public Hearing on two Bills: ‘Nigerian Gas Processing and Marketing Regulatory Board’ and the ‘National Gas Resources Development Agency’. These Bills seeks to establish the much needed legislative framework to free – up Nigeria’s gas deposits from the overarching concentration on crude oil production at the detriment of gas production. The Bills are expected to propel the country to give gas development, production and marketing its pride of place. If these Bills are eventually enacted into law, they will help create the enabling legislative order in which gas shall no longer be a footnote of crude oil with the attendant overriding benefits to the Nigerian economy.
2. The gas sector of the Nigerian economy has despite several commercial efforts failed to yield its value chain benefits. The laws in place in Nigeria have continued to make crude oil production the corner stone of the country’s petroleum sector development, with inadequate focus on gas production. This misnomer is quite understandable in view of the fact that at the time of developing the Nigerian petroleum sector, global interest in crude oil production and utilisation far outweighed gas utilization. Indeed, gas was treated as waste. It has even still continued to be flared.
3. The essence of this Public Hearing is to allow for stakeholders and host communities to input into the two draft Bills which have both passed Second Reading at the House of Representatives. It is therefore our expectation that stakeholders would maximise this window of opportunity presented by the law making process to make their input into the Bills.
4. Presently, Nigeria has a proven gas reserve of about 187 trillion cubic feet and with the global drive towards the use of cleaner fossil fuel (gas), we must do everything possible to draw maximum benefits from the emerging gas economy and the global trend on gas resources. Today, the establishment of fertilizer plants, utilization of gas for electric power production and for several significant economic purposes has tremendously heightened interest in gas production.
5. The legislations that are required to boost the envisaged level of gas utilization are largely opaque and not robust enough to accelerate private entrepreneurial investment in gas development, production, beneficiation and downstream activities; it is for this reason that the House of Representatives is highly committed to enacting legislation that would attract capital into the Nigerian gas sector.
6. The Committee is expected to take the views of all stakeholders into consideration in fashioning a proper legislative solution to the issues at stake. It should also take into consideration the need to cut the cost of governance. This entails that we may not setup Agencies for every identified problem. The Committee should explore the possibility of merging some agencies or making some agencies, robust departments in a bigger Agency.
7. May I therefore once again urge all of you to contribute your best to the search for a better economically diversified nation as I formally declare this Public Hearing open.
8. Thank you as I wish you fruitful deliberations.
9. May God bless us all and the Federal Republic of Nigeria.